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Football viewership up 7% in 2018 from 5% in 2016

Indian OTT players to have freemium business model in future, says Uday Sodhi

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MUMBAI: After Star India took the initiative to boost a variety of sports in India, other broadcasters also picked up their shovels to dig deep. It has made a sincere effort in the turnaround of Indian football with participation (to build culture), incentivisation (to build careers), and commercialisation model (to drive in viewership) which are the three building blocks to development.

Delivering a keynote address at the Star Sports India Football Forum 2018, an initiative by SportzPower, Star Sports head marketing Rajiv Mathrani said, “The best way to predict the future is to dream it. India is not too far from playing FIFA World Cup with the increase in the number of teams, the ranking in which we are and the young talent which is coming along.”

All India Football Federation (AIFF) general secretary Kushal Das said that AIFF will very soon launch a school-level project along with the game’s world governing body FIFA.

According to BARC data, FIFA WC final garnered 16 million impressions in India and stood at fourth place. China (56 million impressions), Germany (21 million impressions) and France (19 million impressions) were ahead of India.  

BARC India head- partnerships Elbert D’Silva said, “If we look at football, in 2016 the sport garnered 2 billion impressions and now till October 2018, it has garnered 3 billion impressions.”

Football viewership has gone up from five per cent in 2016 to seven per cent in 2018.

As of now, there are 836 million viewers who watch television across India. Out of these 836 million viewers who have access to television, 791 million or 95 per cent have consumed some sporting content across multiple TV channels. If we look at football numbers, 498 million people have sampled some content related to football in the country.

According to D’Silva, the movement of Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid to Juventus has affected the viewership. El Clasico’s impressions dropped down from 4 million to 2 million, but on the other hand, Serie A viewership doubled.

The sports revenue in India has increased from $0.9 billion in 2016 to $1.1 billion in 2017, whereas North America has seen a spike in the revenue from $15.7 billion in 2016 to $16.2 billion in 2017.

SPN India EVP and head digital business Uday Sodhi thinks that this year’s FIFA WC has really made football mainstream in India. “The only difference for OTT is that this is a newer medium, the forms of monetisation and the way you monetise will take more time to get established,” Sodhi added.

ESP Properties business head Vinit Karnik said, “With multiple services coming in one set top box, the day is not too far when the gap between traditional TV and OTT will change.”

SonyLiv has a large sports footprint, football is growing 150 per cent y-o-y, basketball is growing 3-5X. Sodhi believes that India will have a freemium business going forward to a large extent. There will be a significant amount of advertising play and subscription will then be able to create a niche for itself for premium content.

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